I woke up excited and confident for the day to begin. On my schedule was an employee party at the ski area where I was working and then a party with my boyfriend’s family. I knew a chair lift would be running on the mountain to snowboard but I was over boarding. I had gotten in over 120 days on the mountain that season and was ready for spring to start. I pushed my snow gear aside and pulled out a dress to wear. I remember twirling in front of the mirror and thinking, “Damn girl your ass has never looked better!” All the hiking in snow, boarding and mountain fun had paid off. Little did I know that would probably be the last time I would be standing on my own in front of a mirror able to look at a 360º view of my entire body. I few hours later I would injure my spinal cord in a snowboarding accident.
Today marks 20 years since that day. 20 years since I broke my T-11 vertebra that cut my spinal cord and left me paralyzed on the snow. I can’t believe it’s been that long yet it feels like it’s been an eternity. So much of the life I had created and was looking forward to was lost on the mountain that day. So many of the things I thought defined me were left there. Everything changed in an instant. I was sitting at the bottom of the longest steepest uphill climb I could have never imagined.
Pain, anger, depression, guilt, shame, suicidal thoughts, loss, embarrassment, apathy, envy, grief and fear ate up a lot of the years after the injury. I tried numbing that out with drugs and alcohol for a long time until realizing that was not the path to healing. Ten surgeries extending from complications of the original injury, several life threatening situations and countless hospitalizations has put my life on pause again and again. Sometimes for days, sometimes for months and sometimes for years. Every part of my life; mental, physical, social, romantic, work and play has suffered from it. I sat there like a spectator watching more and more of my life and body becoming paralyzed as time went on and was positive there was nothing I could do about it. I was convinced the world was against me and that I must be a terrible horrible person to have deserved all of this suffering.
This injury has tested me in unimaginable ways and has pushed all my limits to every extreme possible. I had fought so hard against it for so long that eventually i just wore my mind, body and soul out. A few years ago my pelvis detached from my spine. I was faced with a 50/50 chance of living or dying. I was ready to die. I had enough. I had it all planned out but my family wouldn’t let me go. They convinced me to have a risky spine reconstruction surgery just to see if it might make things better. After surgery I was in and out of consciousness. I remember having a vivid dream/vision of familiar angels surrounding me and a clear message they really wanted me to understand. As I was coming out of it I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down what I was hearing. I wrote, “Divine love is alive everywhere. Mind, body and soul are love, deserving of love. Hard not to fight, but lean in and relax. Lean in. Relax. Lean into it. Relax. It’s how it should be. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in.”
That experience transformed something deep inside of me. A switch flipped and I just stopped fighting so hard against everything and started to lean into experiences with no expectation. I gained such a deep feeling of gratitude for everything, positive and negative. A calm sense that in the big picture all is how it should be. Since that experience I have tried to lean into whatever has been put in front of me, easy or hard. In doing so I found better outcomes because more opportunities have opened up. I found paths to regaining muscle movement and feeling in body parts that had been paralyzed. I started walking again after 17 years of being down!! I don’t suffer in all of those lower frequency emotions anymore. I don’t have unbearable pain. I don’t wake up with dread and anxiety for the day to come. I wake up happy and excited!
So here I sit 20 years after that traumatic day. I can honestly say today I feel so grateful for all that I have gained from that day on the mountain and from the injury. I have learned countless lessons. I am stronger, wiser, more compassionate, more empathetic, more excepting, calmer, have more peace and joy. I feel lighter, happier and healthier than I have my whole life. I don’t feel like the world is out to get me anymore, I feel like I’m out to get the world. I know I am a good person who deserves the best. I’m floating downstream instead of fighting against the current. Maybe my life didn’t turn out they way I thought it would because it’s unfolding exactly as it should. I feel like a caterpillar that turned into a butterfly.
I thank each and every one of you that has been with me thru this nutty journey. There is no way I can thank you enough. There is no way I would have made it 20 years without the overwhelming support, light and love shown by all of you. It’s been humbling and inspiring to receive. I hope to return the favor. Also, I apologize to all of those I have hurt, I know in dark times I have not been the kindest and projected my shit onto others.
So I hope we can all try to lean in during this challenging time because I’ve learned the more we fight it the more we will suffer. Today I am SO grateful to just smile. I’m grateful to have my health, to be able to get out of bed, to cook for myself and to be able to move around even if it’s just in my home. I hope you can find things to be grateful for also. Thanks for looking out for me and for others during this time. Big hugs and much love to all!!